Recently I started seeing a lot of buzz on the internet about the new Food Network magazine. People really seemed to be enjoying it. I missed the premiere issue in January but I figured I’d pick up the Feb/March issue. I’ve had it for a few weeks now and must say I’ve really enjoyed reading it! There are some really neat features. One of my favorites is a recipe index at the front of the magazine. I have seen recipe indexes in other magazines but never like this one. There are little mini pictures above the name of each dish and I just love that. It lets me immediately get a sense of what’s in the magazine and it also helps when I go back to the magazine a 2nd or 3rd time looking for a particular recipe.

These pretzels were the very first recipe in the index and I immediately knew I wanted to make them. I absolutely love Auntie Annie’s pretzels and this recipe was an attempt by Food Network to recreate those pretzels. I definitely think they succeeded! I couldn’t believe how delicious these were and just how much they tasted like the pretzels you’d get in the mall at Auntie Annie’s. This was my first attempt at making pretzels and my pretzel shaping skills could definitely use some work, so I’ll just have to make these over and over again until I get it right!

Soft Pretzels
from Food Network Magazine, February/March 2009

1 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse salt

Warm the milk in a saucepan until it is about 110 degrees. Pour the milk into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes; stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon. Dice 2 tablespoons of the butter and soften it (I microwave it for a minute on 10% power) before stirring it into the mix. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 F and grease a large baking sheet. Punch the dough down to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. If the dough seems tight, cover and let it rest until it relaxes. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. (Next time I make these I’ll take pictures of this step and post them!)

Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter in a shallow dish. Dip the hot pretzels in the butter, turning to coat. Place the pretzels on a wire rack to let excess butter drip off. Serve the pretzels warm.

Makes 6 pretzels.